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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins Enters U.S. Senate Race

Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins launches his campaign for U.S. Senate Monday, May 13 in Helena, Mont.
Corin Cates-Carney
Montana Public Radio
Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins launched his campaign for U.S. Senate Monday, May 13 in Helena, Mont.

Montana Democrats have found their first candidate to challenge Republican Steve Daines for the U.S. Senate in 2020. Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins announced his candidacy for the race Monday.

Collins launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate in front of around 100 people on the walking mall in downtown Helena.

"I think it’s time we restore the real and true meaning behind public service," he told the crowd.

Collins made international headlines in 2017 when, in his first race for public office, he defeated a four-term incumbent in a nonpartisan election to become the mayor of Helena

At the time, anti-refugee sentiment coursed through elections around the world. Collins, a refugee from Liberia’s civil war, arrived in Montana more than 20 years ago.

In his Senate campaign kickoff speech, Collins said issues he’ll campaign on include: dark money in politics, unaffordable health care, inaction on climate change, lack of veterans services, and economic inequality.

Collins did not mention Republican Steve Daines by name, but took several jabs at the incumbent for his lack of public meetings with voters.

"Look for me on the campaign trail. Here’s another promise: I won’t be hard to find," Collins said.

Senator Daines has said he often travels around the state speaking with constituents.

Daines was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014, ending Democrats’ 100-year hold on the seat. Campaign finance reports show Daines currently has more than $2.5 million in the bank to defend his position. He raised more than $1 million in the first three months of 2019.

The Republican’s campaign emails have characterized Democrats generally as “socialist,” “globalist,” and “unhinged.”

The Montana Republican Party issued a statement Monday calling Collins, "Just another liberal Democrat who will be a rubber stamp for the far-left’s radical agenda."

It’s unclear whether another Democrat will enter the race.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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